OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) continues to report a decline in continued and initial unemployment claims with the continued claims four-week moving average dropping for the 28th consecutive week. OESC also reports a 75.6% first call resolution, meaning that claimants are getting the help they need the first time they call.

“We are continuing to place priority on helping claimants with their benefits questions as quickly as possible, and I commend our team for their commitment to resolving issues on the first call,”  said OESC Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt. “Since the start of the pandemic, OESC paid out more than $3.84 billion dollars in benefits, which is more than the past decade combined, and processed more than 8.6 billion payments. Although we are encouraged by the decrease in claims, we remain focused on ensuring Oklahomans are getting the help they need.”

In September, OESC started a digital transformation project to completely transform its digital infrastructure by the first quarter of 2022. In 2020, OESC began improving its risk and fraud management, the benefits renewal process, claims submission and processing, and the appeals process. Now, the agency will begin working on regulatory reporting automation, the employer claims portal and the reemployment experience.

“With these changes to the system and a new mainframe, the agency will see significant improvements to our processes,” said Zumwalt. “These will ultimately help claimants and employers with their experience with unemployment.”

Weekly Unemployment Numbers for Week Ending Jan. 2

• For the week ending Jan. 2, the advance number of initial claims, unadjusted, totaled 4,594, a decrease of 437 from the previous week's revised level of 5,031. 

• Initial claims’ four-week moving average was 5,034, a decrease of 394 from the previous week's revised average of 5,428.

• The advance unadjusted number of continued claims totaled 36,435, a decrease of 2,697 from the previous week’s revised level of 39,132.

• Continued claims’ four-week moving average was 40,841, a decrease of 2,687 from the previous week's revised average of 43,528.

Nationally, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims during the same period was 787,000, a decrease of 3,000 from the previous week's revised level, the U.S. Department of Labor reports. The four-week moving average was 818,750, a decrease of 18,750 from the previous week. For the week ending Dec. 26, DOL reports the advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 3.5%, unchanged from the previous week's unrevised rate.

The national weekly seasonally adjusted initial claims report is one of 10 components in the Composite Index of Leading Economic Indicators. To smooth out the volatility in the weekly initial claims data, a four-week moving average is used to assess trends.

Claimant Resources

Individuals seeking unemployment benefits should go to https://ui.ok.gov and create an account with the Get Started button to connect their social security number and pull all unemployment information into one location.

Unemployment claimants should be aware that not returning to work when recalled or when work is available could potentially lead to disqualification from receiving unemployment benefits.

Employers may report this activity by emailing returntowork@oesc.state.ok.us, calling 405-962-7524, or mailing OESC at P.O. Box 52006, Oklahoma City, OK, 73152-2006.

If a claimant returns to work full time, they should keep their unemployment claim open with OESC and not certify a weekly claim. If they return part time, a claimant may continue to certify their weekly claim and must report all gross earnings for the week to potentially receive a partial benefit. Eligibility for continued benefits is determined on the circumstances of each individual claimant.

OESC is an excellent resource for people looking to re-enter the job market by connecting Oklahomans with available employment through https://okjobmatch.com/.

If a PUA-eligible claimant reopens their business, they will still receive backdated unemployment benefits to when their COVID-19-related job loss or business closure occurred.

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